Why Does This Video Exist (#3)

Every once and again I have to ask myself whether or not I think alcohol is really important to consume. Wayne Dyer doesn't drink, because he doesn't believe he should put impurities into his body.

Just for the record, I happen to love Wayne Dyer. The new-age self-help/motivation movement is very easy to belittle. It 's frequently negated as BS, because most people don't realize the importance and the awesome rejuvenating strength of self-delusion. The very phrase "self-delusion" carries a 100% negative connotation, wrongly. People who don't have it are envious of those who do have it, especially when they believe the opposite is true.

The number one killer of people's dreams is reality. In the real world, it's nearly impossible to achieve impressive accomplishments. This is what it means for something to be impressive. Average people with functionable IQs know that sisyphean tasks are not worth wasting effort on--this is perfectly sensible. So they aim for much more attainable (aka realistic and ultimately less impressive) accomplishments. This leaves less competition for all those really fancy accomplishments being fought over by truly exceptional people and those handful of average people who are able to immerse themselves in a fantasy world long enough to catch a lucky break. I'm not gonna get into Outliers here, we all know you need luck as much as intelligence and work ethic combined. Sadly, luck doesn't favor realists.

We value intelligence highly, and those who are unintelligent enough to ignore incentive feedback and keep struggling in vain with a weirdly cheerful attitude are often looked down upon.

And those getting rich encouraging others to ignore incentive feedback are REALLY looked down upon. That's where Wayne Dyer comes in.

Dyer is not completely straightforward with his audience. He has a good message, but he doesn't give it to them literally. The literal message is, you probably CAN'T accomplish very unlikely achievements, so it's important to lie to yourself just in case something unusual happens. But that message cannot manifest literally because it loses effectiveness, people misunderstand it. If you REALIZE that you can't accomplish these things, you're going to stop trying, which will take your odds from .09% to 0%, which is a mathematical drop-off of infinity percent.

Speaking of tiny likelihoods, I'd like to briefly discuss something known as the placebo affect. You probably know what it is: people in clinical trials who simply THINK they are going to get better have a 4-5% chance of getting better.

Why isn't this the single most talked about, pondered, and studied phenomena on the face of the Earth? Five percent is decent odds. If you had a five percent chance of hitting big on the lottery, you'd rightfully be playing every time. If the doctor told you, take this pill or you have a five percent chance of getting a cancerous malignancy, you'd greatfully comply.

Still, the five percent placebo effect really looks lame. It's so small, it can be written of as a margin of error. But were it simply a margin of error, it would disappear in the long-run. It would come out in the wash. It would average out over the big picture to zero, or a continually decreasing, statistically irrelevant percentile. But it doesn't. It hangs out at--roughly--five percent.

[If I'm being completely honest--and it doesn't feel as amazing not to be--the placebo effect is probably related to the vasodialating effect of stress releief on smooth-muscles. The mechanism of simply addressing your health problem can have neurological benefits which can boost nutrient and antibody delivery to your harder-to-reach cells upon smooth-muscle retraction. It's also empirically better for pain-relief than psychologically-unaffected pathologies, but I digress.]

There's a cheesy motivational poster that says "You make 0% of the shots you don't take." It's a cheesy poster. Easily negated by a snarky eye-roll or a zillion examples of internet epic-fail, but we tend to over-look the math of the issue. And it's a compelling mathematics indeed. Who's more likely to open their own international airport: a) Some dipshit who's easily deluded (and when a millionaire psychologist lies to them, telling them they can do anything, they spend their whole life focusing on achieving it) or b) A competent, self-aware, realistic adult who has simply settled for more realistic goals. Second guy's not working on it, so he has a 0% chance. First guy may have only a .0000001% chance, but that's an infinitely larger percentage.

So back to alcohol.

There are two main arguments against alcohol. The first is Dyer's: Alcohol is an impurity. (read: It's not good for you.) The second, I've heard all over the place, even from myself when I was an older man: "You don't need alcohol to have a good time."

Both of these things are technically true, but they're not actually true. They're literally true but they're not generally true.

First, the impurity. True, alcohol can be tough on your insides, you might not live as long. We know that moderate drinking (one a day) is good for you, especially if it's red wine. Studies are starting to show that even heavy drinkers out-live non-drinkers, but this phenomenon is not yet understood well enough to assert it as a pro-booze major premise. So let's say for the sake of argument that alcohol is definitely bad for your body. Is this a good enough reason to avoid it?

No. Especially since the "bad for our body" situation is such an modern-American rip-tide. Dyer gets a tip of the hat since he runs five miles every day and probably has a new-age diet that's really Temple-oriented. I'm not going to blast him for balking on bad effects of alcohol. If your policy is to treat your body like an avatar of Vishnu, then go the extra mile and stay away from alcohol. Everyone else needs to stop power-sitting and contracting eye-cancer from their EZ-Pass before they can realistically diss booze on health-grounds.

Secondly, "You don't need booze to have a good time."

Here's my answer to that.

(Watch the whole three minutes, without skipping ahead. Do it. It's important. Do it.)

This video is obviously a social psychologist's wet dream. A ridiculous dude at the Sasquatch Festival (which probably earns him a pre-qualifier as one of the most ridiculous dudes in that time-zone) is a good mile back from the music, and he's dancing his face off. He looks pretty lame, doesn't he? You wouldn't act like that because then other people would laugh at you or make judgements about you. To act like that would be to submit to other people the power to ridicule you.

A dude joins dancing man. Does dancing man look less cool than when he started? Or about equal? Another dude joins. Does dancing man look more or less lame with the second additional dude? As waves of people join him in fibonaccian intervals, his lame-ness melts away and his social status reaches, and exceeds equilibrium. He quickly jumps from a target of ridicule to the most phenomenal dude at this festival.

Now, let me ask you this.

Is dancing man having more fun dancing in the mob than he was when he was the only one dancing?

Probably. At least a little. It's always more fun to howl at the moon with the rest of the pack. But you have to admit something. You know, in your heart of hearts... that dancing man was also having a pretty FUCKING great time at the beginning. Before he was cool. Before he was the life of the party. Back when he was a singular object of ridicule so stupid-looking that dudes were filming him to put it on the internet. He was footloose and fancy-free. And having a blast.

This is the experience of intoxication.

[If you search online, other people had been filming him dancing from entirely different angles, it's actually pretty entertaining to watch. One dude's sitting so close with his dancing-man-cam that he got swallowed up by the dance party.]

Of course people can still have fun without booze. But those dry times are required to go pretty perfectly to plan, aren't they? Without intoxication, most people's ability to have fun is psychologically tethered to an array of various social quotients.

There's a reason that dickheads fight when they're drunk, while others dole out the "You're the best buddy a guy could have!" It's because alcohol--to borrow a phrase from Kevin Booth--allows "your outer voice to match your inner voice."

[Used by Booth in original context in a documentary about Bill Hicks to describe what makes a good comedian.]

Bill Cosby has a great bit about cocaine: Someone tells him, "Cocaine amplifies your personality." He replies, "But what if you're an asshole?"... The sad fact of the matter is that assholes should probably never drink. I've never had a problem with people who are phony. If you're an asshole on the inside, I don't mind the fact that you're bound by social contract to be polite on the outside. Complete honesty is not the highest ethic, it's an indulgence reserved for people with beautiful souls. It exists to create intimacy. But even people with beautiful souls get tripped up from daily bliss due to the interpersonal complications of society. Here's an exception that proves the rule. I watched a man stop to publicly express gratitude to a particularly friendly clerk for her lovely and generous smiles every day when he comes for coffee. She was clearly moved by this gesture and reflexively smiled even brighter. She said thank you and have a great day and he went on his way. It wasn't creepy because genuinely wonderful people don't have shit and fear in their hearts. But, both blushing, it was still clearly a rush for them because this generous type of honesty doesn't occur every day.

The fucking vampires in the check-out line looked at each other like they were witnessing a freak show.

To quote Duncan Trussel, "Vampires don't know how to react to people who feel good about life. If you've got your eyes rolling and your judgement beams flashing, you know that underneath that thick coat of shit that covers your fucking vampiric heart, at the depth of your being there's a beautiful, eternal light which is the supreme love force in the universe. Unfortunately, out of your cowardice, you've not only chosen to cover it up, but you've chosen to cover it up in other people around you!"

Moral of the essay: Don't strive to be dancing-man at 2:53. Strive to be dancing-man at 0:14. Don't worry about it if you don't get there right away. I sure as shit wouldn't be able to do dance publicly and unselfconsiously without being "in on the joke". There's a little bit of vampire in all of us. But maybe a couple drinks will help you wake up to what Hal Hartley calls those moments of divine fatigue in which the world is incapable of prejudice.

[People under the age of 21 should not drink alcoholic beverages.]

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